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Work bench ergonomics – find your balance, strengthen your back!

Once again, 15 March this year will be all about back health, featuring events, campaigns and workshops.

The Campaign for Healthy Backs (AGR e.V.) and the Association of German Back Schools (Bundesverband der deutschen Rückenschulen (BdR) e. V.) traditionally organise “Back Health Day” in mid-March. While last year’s focus on ergodynamics was about encouraging employees to pursue a lifestyle that is healthy for their backs, the 16th campaign day will highlight the role of balance – both physical and psychological – in maintaining back health. There will also be lots of valuable information about work bench ergonomics.

Back Health Day and its importance for SMEs

Back pain is an issue that is not restricted to office workers. For many years, a key part of the campaign day is underlining the importance of back health for industrial companies. Back pain is still one of the most commonly suffered conditions, and is one of the principle causes of people being unable to work in Germany. With an average of more than 15 sick days, musculoskeletal disorders are among the illnesses that cause the lengthiest absences. SMEs can be particularly hard-hit by these kinds of absences, especially as they generally affect experienced employees.

The current AGR back report shows a clear trend – nearly 70 percent of respondents indicated that they had problems with their backs at least once a month. For some time, this group has also included younger workers who still have a long working life ahead of them. And yet, according to the AGR, 90 percent of these complaints are not caused by serious conditions. Indeed, in most cases, back problems are caused by employees adopting and holding a lop-sided posture for long periods, as is often the case during manual assembly work. Industrial work benches that cannot be adapted to the individual physical requirements of employees also represent a risk. Under these conditions, it quickly becomes clear that work bench ergonomics pays.

Work bench ergonomics as a competitive advantage

In an interview, ergonomics expert Ulrich Kuhnt went a step further – “Companies that don’t implement ergonomics will not be able to survive in the long term”. In fact, ergonomic industrial work benches do more than reduce sick days, they also put employees in a position where they can achieve the best possible results based on their own specific needs. Work bench ergonomics is therefore key to increasing the production efficiency of a company, particularly when it comes to manual assembly work.

The close interplay of ergonomics and lean production can also be seen in another example. In a one-piece-flow process, employees accompany a single workpiece through every processing step all the way to completion. This reduces both lapses in concentration caused by constantly repeating the same work steps and the muscular imbalances that see certain muscle groups subjected to a great deal of strain as a result of monotonous, long-term stress, while other muscle groups are virtually unused. Pain and, in the long term, sick days are the consequence when work bench ergonomics are disregarded.

Campaign calendar for the 16th Back Health Day

This example brings us full circle to this year’s motto – “Find your balance – strengthen your back!”. Of course, putting in place ergonomic work bench design will not completely eradicate back complaints on its own. That is why Back Health Day always aims to provide information about preventive measures employees can take themselves.

The 16th Back Health Day is therefore accompanied by a wide range of events, offers and campaigns. All over Germany, a large number of doctors, sports clubs and fitness studios are taking part throughout the week with special campaigns relating to back health. All the official events are marked on an interactive map of Germany.

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